A STORY ABOUT A REAL MAN 93 sergeant". Near her Kukushkin came tripping, a little fellow with an unpleasant, jaundiced face, who was disliked in the squadron because of his unsociable habits. He too was smiling and trying to keep in step with Yura's enormous paces. Meresyev remembered that just before his flight he had, in a large company, twitted Kukush- kin for failing to pay him a debt and was convinced that this vindictive fellow would never forgive him. But now he was running beside the stretcher, carefully supporting it and elbowing aside the bystanders to prevent them from pushing. Alexei never suspected that he had so many friends. That's what people are like when they truly reveal them- selves! He now felt sorry for the "meteorological sergeant" who seemed afraid of him for some reason; he felt ashamed of himself in the presence of the M.C.B. Commander, about whose stinginess he had circulated so many jokes and anecdotes in the division, and he felt that he wanted to apologise to Kukushkin and to tell the boys that he was not such an unpleasant and unsociable felow after all. Alexei felt that after all the torments he had gone through he had at last come home to his own family, where everybody sincerely rejoiced at his return. He was carefully carried across the field to the silvery Red Cross plane standing masked on the edge of a bare birch wood. The mechanics were already starting its engine. '"Comrade Major," said Meresyev suddenly, addressing himself to the Wing Commander and trying to speak as loudly and confidently as possible. The Commander, with the customary quiet, enigmatic smile, bent over Alexei. "Comrade Major ... permit me not to fly to Moscow, but to remain here, with you...." The Commander pulled off his helmet which prevented him from hearing. "I don't want to go to Moscow. I want to remain here, at the medical battalion...." The major took off his fur glove, groped for Alexei's hand under the blanket and, pressing it, said: "You funny chap! You need real, serious treatment."